HMRC. Still rubbish.

tax manIt’s May. People are starting to go on holiday. Few people are thinking about their tax return, given the first filing deadline is a little under six months away. However, despite this being the notional ‘quiet season’ for HMRC, Which!!! are reporting numerous complaints from members, as it seems it is still just as impossible to get through.

Last December Which!!! performed scientific  tests to see how long it took for HMRC to answer the phone. While the average time was 18 minutes, some calls took over 40 minutes to get an answer. And as we’ve all heard, hang on for too long and the phone will just cut you off, leaving you no option but to just hang on the telephone for hours again.

Back then, HMRC admitted there was a problem, saying it had hired extra staff for the January ‘tax season’ and trained more people to take calls. New Government plans for a’digital account’ should improve the position, but that’s a way off and Which!!! think its “worrying” that people are waiting more than 20 minutes, and often up to 40 minutes, now to get through, when the pressure on phone lines is at its lowest. This “doesn’t bode well for later in the year.”

However, Which!!! are never ones to be daunted by the fact that their earlier investigation actually resulted in a poorer service than was offered previously, and they have now launched a poll asking people to log how long they have been waiting to speak to HMRC. Presumably they are planning to use this information to beat HMRC around the head at a later point.

If you are in the unenviable position of needing to call HMRC, prevailing advice seems to be to get up early- the general enquiries number (0300 200 3300) and self-assessment helpline (0300 200 3310) both open at 8am, so early birds get through much quicker. Hopefully.


  • bill
    Speaking from recent experience; you can't even make a complaint because of the waiting time on the phones ts ridiculous, and if you ever do get through to somebody they will tell you to put it in writing and post it. When you send a letter you'd be lucky to ever receive a response. A recorded letter won't be signed for until about a week later due to the backlog of post they have (even if you send it first class) and even then you still will not receive a response.
  • Aelynn
    Sent my letter January 26th (Signed For - they never acknowledged receipt of it) and finally got a reply on April 25th. Seriously. And they had the cheek to date the reply letter "April 17th", as if it could honestly take 8 days to get a letter delivered.
  • Lee
    Aelynn they post everyting second class and adivse 2 weeks for letters to be delivered. I have been dealing with the Norwegian tax authority recently, I requested some ID codes on a Tuesday and they arrived here in Wales on the Friday morning!! As a tax agent we get through on the phones straight away, but the public helplines are always awful even in their 'quiet' period!

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